Wintertime often equals sickness time. It’s scary as a parent to know that other kiddos are showing up to school sick and spreading germs to your kiddos. It’s scary to think about what sort of things might be sitting on that shopping cart, or that door handle, or whatever your baby just tried to stick in their mouth. Germs are scary. But lucky for us, there are lots of ways to fight them off.
The most basic hygienic procedure is also the most important. It “halts the spread of infection and is effective in preventing the spread of some diseases” (From the Global Handwashing Partnership’s latest research). Have your kiddos wash their hands multiple times at school and at home, especially after coming home from school, playing, or using the bathroom, and before eating. Hand sanitizer can also be effective when soap and a sink aren’t available. It’s really simple, but just doing it a few extra times throughout the day can make a difference.
One cause of the flu and cold season is everyone huddling inside, bouncing germs off of everything in sight and spreading it to others. Getting outside can give you and your children a break from the germs. On colder days or when you are at home, make sure you’re frequently disinfecting countertops and other surfaces that are frequently used. This kills off all of those not-too-friendly viruses and bacteria.
Activity boosts immune systems--it’s been proven for the elderly, adults, and (you guessed it) children! It flushes bacteria out of the lungs and airways, fortifies antibodies and white blood cells, and has slews of other health benefits.
Our bodies repair themselves, increase antibodies, and allow our T cells to fight off sickness while we sleep. Kids need between 9 and 14 hours of sleep every night. Skimping on it increases the risk of infection and long term conditions for children and adults alike. So get those littles off to bed! We know… easier said than done. But just trying to prioritize it and going to bed even a few minutes earlier is progress. Even a little change can help in the long run.
We know that sharing is caring, but not when it comes to sickness. Teaching kids what to share (toys, books, etc.) and what not to share (straws, cups, forks and spoons, food, or anything that comes in contact with mouths and faces) will keep them safe from the germs of others. Most illnesses spread from the transfer of bacteria, directly or indirectly.
And what about when your kid does get sick?
It happens. It will happen. Give them love, some extra attention, chicken noodle soup, and make sure they are getting as much rest and sleep as possible. Keep washing their hands, keep washing your hands, keep disinfecting. In the end, all you can do is all you can do! And if it lasts for longer than normal or has unusual symptoms, don’t be afraid to go to the doctor--they can be very helpful and make sure it’s nothing serious. Here’s to staying healthy through the season!